Fundamental

On the plan are a number of runs I've marked as Fundamental. What on earth is a fundamental run? For those looking for a physiology definition there will be disappointment. It isn't based exactly on a threshold, it's not a set heart rate zone, but it is prescriptive in pace.



There is probably a better term than fundamental for this type of run, but it works for me. Originally taken from concepts used by Renato Canova, but I don't strictly follow his explanation. I've calculated the pace range to be based on what my recent race results suggest I am currently capable of for a marathon if I modify training for a couple of months to hit that time. This gives me my marathon pace. The fundamental pace is then simply 80-90% of that.

For me that works out to be 4:04/km for marathon pace, and fundamental is 4:52-4:28/km. It is clearly aerobic conditioning. How I use this pace range depends on what event I am training for. If my target was a marathon, then I would really push the boundaries for the fundamental runs. At the moment I am preparing for a 100km race, that will be at a significantly slower pace. Maybe 5:30-5:40/km on flat non-technical sections. So the fundamental run is used as general aerobic conditioning with the goal to increase the fat/carbohydrate crossover point and pace, rather than pushing the boundaries on sustaining this speed. Essentially it comes down to developing efficiency at sub-anaerobic threshold pacing. These runs play a very strong supportive role to the extended long runs.

Out of each 8 day training week, I plan to hit two main fundamental runs. First up is what I have marked as the Mid-Long run. Here I have started with 20km. In that I take whatever is required to gradually build up to pace, maybe 3-4km and then hold something in the 4:52-4:28/km range for the remainder of the run, with a short cool down. Since this run will usually occur first thing in the morning, I'm likely to take in a carbohydrate gel part way through so hypoglycaemia isn't a limiter. Initially this run was quite difficult to maintain for the entire distance, but with only two under my belt, it is already much more comfortable. The progression comes initially by extending the distance out to 22km, then 24km, followed by then keeping the pace close to the fast end. Beyond that, no further extension is incorporated into the individual run. Instead I simply repeat each week and have this run move from a moderate to high impact session down to something I can absorb much more comfortably and push my boundaries in other sessions.

The second run is 60-90 minutes over a mix of technical terrain with plenty of different hills. The progression comes by adding 5 minutes each week then just holding 90 minutes. This develops technical running at challenging speeds, and has a fartlek element in that some sections require a much higher intensity just to get anywhere near the pace range, while sections should be quite easy to do so. Lateral movement, balance, proprioception and variable stride techniques are all trained. This session not only develops my aerobic capabilities but is key to enhancing my trail running skills. As much as my schedule allows I'll run this session 2 days after my long run. It is expected there will still be a substantial amount of fatigue from the long run. This fatigue in my legs provides a strong stimulus to slow down. So there is a challenge on the mental side, which I believe is similar in some ways to what is required on race day.

Depending on recovery and other scheduling, I expect to have a third run each 8-day week that touches on the fundamental pacing. Usually this is the day after the 60-90 minute technical run. Usually the format will be a progressive run. Somewhere between 8-12km, starting very slow and gradually increasing the pace as my body naturally loosens up. Nothing about this run should feel forced.

So these runs address a lot of the basics (or fundamentals) of what I need for a trail ultramarathon. The runs are nothing fancy. The results come from consistently hitting them each week in the build up. They often my more enjoyable runs. Fast enough to elicit a runner's high, still a challenge for the first few weeks, but not so hard that I dread them.


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